This 6th installment is one that is probably the most simplest, yet most important of all the Elements of Happiness. Yet, as we have all experienced, there is complexity in the simple. We make it so. It's because we want to make it hard, we want to make it difficult. We think if it's worth having, it's worth working for, but happiness doesn't follow those rules. The number one, most important action is Gratitude. Giving thanks clears the foggy view to expose all your current blessings. The mist rises and clarity ensues when gratitude is declared. This simple act can do even more than just put things into perspective, oh, so much more.
Gratitude Gives Back
Be honest, have you ever truly given thanks on a regular basis? I'm not talking sending out wishes to distant stars or hunting 4-leaf clovers; I'm talking about taking a moment or two to thank the Universe for all you currently have, for everything and everyone you currently enjoy. Gratitude lives in the past and the present, but it gives you a future. That's because gratitude follows the Laws of Newton; more specifically, the Third Law. If you've experienced the effects of giving thanks, you'll know what I'm talking about. However, if you have yet to put gratitude into practice on a regular basis, you'll be skeptical until you begin to try. For all the thanks you put out into the Universe, the Universe will give back, sometimes equally, sometimes giving you more than you deserve, quite frankly. It's a humbling experience, but when it begins to happen, it is powerful and amazing!
Change of Heart
Gratitude is a powerful thing and when you get it in motion, it's unstoppable. But, gratitude isn't just a noun, something you give to get, it's also a verb. Being grateful changes your perspective and begins to soften your heart and touches your soul. Suddenly, those things that used to matter to you are no longer that important. You begin to appreciate the way things are, right now. You begin to realize all that you do have IS all you need and this realization grows the heart "two sizes too big". Your heart begins to grow, your peace increases, and your acceptance comes along for the ride. With gratitude, your priorities begin to surface.
The World Gets Bigger
It's very easy to get into a "what about me" attitude in this world today. We rely less on our neighbors today, we're always watching our backs to see who's coming up from behind, because there's always somebody who wants to be where you're at. But, when you begin declaring gratitude, the ego gets set aside and true grace emerges because you look outside yourself to be thankful. Gratitude is not about you, it's about others. So, when you begin your gratitude journey, you begin seeing the beauty of the world's offerings, not the lack within your own world.
Hook, Line, and SinkerMany play the "Jones's" game and even more are hypnotized by the barrage of advertising campaigns constantly reminding us that happiness can be bought, even if it is through a bottle of perfume, sports car, or tech-gadget. And, in turn, we think, yes! As long as I have the money, I can buy that happiness. So, what happens? You work more, to make more, to buy more, to be more happy. But, the reality is the happiness doesn't come. Why? Because advertising never stops. Once you attain that "false happiness", you'll realize that didn't do it so you'll look to the next thing they are trying to sell you.
How Do I Begin?
Slowly and simply: it's the only way to make it last. Gratitude shouldn't be complicated and it shouldn't be a chore. Personally, I have started a Gratitude Journal. Every Monday I dedicate that day's blog post to giving thanks from the simple and obvious like breathing and having hot water, to the petty like finding a good sale on sheets. It doesn't matter what you declare thanks towards. What matters is that you do it. You'll find some days you get mega-reflective and feel like your declarations are truly deep and meaningful. Other days it's hard to find the obvious like family, good health, and friends. You'll find that the more you do it, the easier it gets. And, you come to find out so much about yourself like where you hold your values and priorities in your life. But, the most important revelation is discovering how truly blessed you are in this life. Realization of one's circumstances always attains wisdom, and with that kind of understanding, leads to peace. All of that, together, is required for happiness.
Some people take a few minutes before they close their eyes for the day and think of all the things they are grateful for. Nothing is written or typed, it's simply declared in the mind. Whichever method you choose doesn't matter, the point is that the time is taken for reflection. Give yourself those precious moments to re-calibrate your life and find your own true North.
If you do this regularly, I can assure you, the Universe will reward you with so much favor, you won't believe it. But, you won't know until you try. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes consistency, but you will reap the rewards. But, the true reward is your change of heart, your change on perspective, and your expanded world that awaits your love. Declare it and share it!
I hope you've enjoyed this Series: Elements of Happiness. If you have missed any of the previous posts, please click the links below.
1. Quack Like a Duck
2. Accept Yourself
3. Take Shelter
4. People Pleasers Need Not Apply
5. Letting Go